Making life pleasant with an attitude of gratitude Print
Grand Mom
Thursday, Jul. 24, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

I recently lived vicariously through a friend's miserable experience caring for an elderly aunt.

Although my friend traveled more than 2,000 miles to care for her aunt following a surgery, she was treated like a servant by this grumpy old lady, who showed no gratitude for her niece's sacrifice, even though back home those of us who know her well are aware of her outstanding homemaking and nursing skills.

We couldn't wait for the two weeks to end and have her back home to her family where she is appreciated.

Caring for the elderly

This was an experience that touched my heart and made me think about the whole situation of the elderly and the caregiver.

I am in the position where I need some caregiving and will probably need a lot more in time to come. I will admit I have never been the caregiver for the elderly. My own mother lived 1,000 miles away when I was raising my big family, and my older sister had the privilege of taking mother in.

But I did learn one important thing from my mother, and that was the importance of gratitude. Mother never failed to not only thank people for every little favor, but to frequently praise them to others.

Cheery, gracious attitude

Last year at this time, I was confined to a wheelchair after breaking my foot, and I spent two months at Alden's for therapy.

This was the same place that my husband, Bob, had spent the last six months of his life just three years before.

I tried not to think about that as I adjusted to my new temporary residence. Instead, I focused on the lovely dining areas featuring folded napkins poking out of glass stemware at every table.

When someone complained about the food (which we had the privilege of ordering in advance), I would point out the cheery atmosphere and speedy service.

When people complained about having to go into therapy, I said it reminded me of being in a school gymnasium with all the balls bouncing and the therapists counting out and laughing. It was alive, and I loved it!

While I was there, I watched the underpaid aides rushing down the hallways to answer the lights of people who wanted to go to the bathroom or have something picked up from the floor or ask a question whose answer is posted on the wall or in the reading material they were given.

Or "How much longer until I can have my pain medication?" And the worker, who may be completing a second shift or have been up all night with a sick child, is supposed to smile pleasantly and proceed to do the job. Do they always get a thank you? Or a compliment? Those are treasured and free!

Compliments are free

Just yesterday I had a chance to use one of those free compliments.

The phone rang, and when I picked it up and heard this pleasant voice say, "Mrs. Fixmer? How are you today?" I knew it was another dreaded sales calls. Instead of hanging up immediately as I usually do, I said in my most bored voice, "Yeah, whaddya want?"

She gasped a little, then recovered enough to assure me that she was not asking for a charitable donation, and then went on to say that she represented Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and if I would order any magazine at all, I would make an automatic donation.

I told her I had been cutting down on magazines to read more books. She mentioned some of the pop women's magazines that I said I no longer have the use for since my family is raised and I don't need to better my home and garden and the only thing I do read is recipes.

I still love to cook. "Cooking Light." I already get that. Just renewed my subscription. Now, they send me two every month. I give one to my daughter.

"Food and Wine," she suggested. Well, I got that many years ago, and I couldn't afford the ingredients. But now I have a son who is a gourmet cook, and he can't afford the magazine, so yeah, I'll get it for him (and read it first).

She was happy that I had made a donation of $9 to MADD. And, I thanked her for being so gracious at the start of our conversation when I had been so rude to her.

"Oh, you have made my day!" she exclaimed.

You see, it costs nothing to say thank you and be pleasant. By the way, how much was that subscription? $48! Three years? You've got to be kidding me! Will I still be alive?

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